Plans submitted last week call for the local government building to be renamed in honor of Dawson County’s last sole commissioner.
Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner asked the county commission on Thursday to consider changing the name of the Fouts Building to pay tribute to the late Kenneth H. Long, who served as sole commissioner from 1993-96.
Long was sole commissioner in 1995 when the county acquired the property on Maple Street after paying a property debt on the federally-seized building.
The building, seized as part of a federal drug probe, initially served as the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office and 911 Center. It was recently renovated and now houses the county’s public works, information technology, environmental health and drug and alcohol treatment court offices, as well as the Red Cross and No One Alone.
Clark Beusse, who suggested naming the building in Long’s honor, said the former commissioner would be pleased the county is using the site rather than buying additional property or buildings to use for county business.
“When he was sole commissioner, he had the county at heart with the decisions he made, and he was one to run a tight budget,” Beusse said. “I believe he was criticized by some for fixing up things instead of building new to try to save money.
“Renovating this building so the county can continue using it is something he would have been pleased with.”
Long, who died on Sept. 12, 2007, made the decision to buy the seized property for $139,000, which was the amount owed in taxes. Seven agencies involved in the drug investigation, including Dawson County, split the proceeds from the sale, said Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle.
“The deal was we had to use the building for law enforcement needs for five years,” Carlisle said.
About the same time the county acquired the building, Long was working with local emergency officials to establish a 911 system in Dawson County. “Prior to that, if you wanted a sheriff’s officer or an ambulance, you called 265-3333,” Tanner said.
The seized building became home to the 911 Center and the sheriff’s administrative offices. In October 2007, Carlisle opened the county’s new law enforcement center, moving the sheriff offices and 911 Center.
Over the past three months, the county has renovated the Fouts Building and relocated the departments that were previously housed in rental property. The move, Tanner said, saved taxpayers thousands of dollars in rent.
Tanner said renaming the building serves two purposes. “First, it would end a nefarious association with a drug-related acquisition, and second it would pay tribute to Kenneth Long, a dedicated leader who worked tirelessly to significantly shape the future of Dawson County,” he said.
Long’s family members — Laura Dean Long, Sharon Smith, Dell and Kayron Conner, Jody Fausett and Erica Smith — said in a statement Monday that the family was “humbled to hear of this honor.”
“Everyone that had known Kenneth knew he loved Dawson County with all his heart and soul,” the family said. “The family deeply appreciates and are humbled that this recognition has been bestowed upon him.”
Commissioners are expected to vote on renaming the building at 6 p.m. Nov. 6. If approved, Tanner said a formal ceremony to christen the KH Long Government Center would take place as soon as new signs could be completed.
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